Suffice to say if Manchester City and Chelsea do indeed make it to the Champions League final then, on the basis of today's game, organizers in Istanbul ought not to waste all that much on fireworks. There could be precious little to shout about at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
Plenty could change in a month, not least the fact that Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain will be no less confident of winning their semifinals than their English opponents. Injuries such as the one suffered by Kevin De Bruyne early in the second half could yet have a seismic impact on matters domestic and continental. It is also reasonable to assume that City, and quite possibly Chelsea, will employ different attacking setups to those that started today's FA Cup semifinal.
Whether that will change tactical plans defined by their caution we will not know for some time but what we can be sure of is that should the Champions League Final pit Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola against each other both are certain to work hard to combat and mitigate the plans of the man in the other dugout. That made for a contest that one might generously describe as cagey where both teams were fearful of the damage their opponent could cause in transition.
City need all their creative midfielders
As such Guardiola opted to deploy the 4-2-3-1 formation with two sitting midfielders, Fernandinho and Rodri, that he had gravitated away from after City's labored start to the season. The reason why it was consigned to the tactical dustbin was clear in the early knockings at Wembley, suddenly all the creative pressure fell on De Bruyne, whose ankle seemed to give way under the pressure early on.
It did not help him that Raheem Sterling and Ferran Torres looked labored in possession, the former in particular all too often taking a heavy touch that merely invited Cesar Azpilicueta to whip the ball off his boots. Phil Foden's sparkling introduction as De Bruyne's replacement was a reminder that in the biggest games Guardiola needs to start his youngest forward. The same could be said of Ilkay Gundogan, whose partnership with Joao Cancelo offered City spark down a stuttering right.
Werner works against high lines for Chelsea
If changes will surely come from Guardiola in crucial games to come, it seems Tuchel might have unearthed at least one potentially successful tactical approach that can work against top tier opposition. This was not the first time he resolved to punish high lines through the electric pace of Timo Werner. It worked against Liverpool and eventually it did against City as well.
For some Chelsea supporters it must be infuriating to see Werner slip past players he could easily overtake even if they were given a two-yard head start. But when it clicks it is hard to defend. There is no getting back quickly enough to recover and the German shows admirable selflessness in goal scoring positions, giving up his own chance and squaring for Hakim Ziyech to tap home a far better one today just as he had done for Mason Mount at The Hawthorns a fortnight ago.
The man Chelsea signed to bring goals to the team may be guilty of panicky finishes in front of goal but it is not for nothing that he leads the Blues' assist charts with 12 in all competitions.
Should they face each other again in Istanbul, City may find the Werner problem is not as easily resolved as one might assume. The high line is central to elite teams' tactical approach, from how they build attacks to how they swiftly regain possession. The likes of Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte (or John Stones should he continue as first choice starter) may not be able to simply flick a switch and put in an error-free performance. A more aggressive press may at least force hurried passes in the German's direction but it only takes one mistake.
Only one because this Chelsea defense is proving on a weekly basis that they are one of the most hard to score against in Europe. In less than three months Tuchel has masterminded victories over Diego Simeone (twice), Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and now Guardiola without the concession of a single goal. In 11 against 11 situations -- i.e. setting aside the aberration of a 5-2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion -- the Blues defensive record reads played 18, conceded four.
This is hardly the free-flowing football with which Roman Abramovich wants his club to conquer Europe but it is undeniably effective. They have become masters of forcing bad shots on their opponents. In 12 Premier League games the Blues have faced only 16 on target shots that came from within their penalty area. Atletico Madrid did not manage one of those in two matches, City today took just one when Kepa Arrizabalaga saved Rodri's header in the 93rd minute.
"We played an excellent 35 minutes in the first half," said Tuchel after the game. "We had to suffer for 10 minutes. We then played another 30 minutes so strong and got the lead, could have got another. It was a very strong performance and I am very proud of my team, very happy they performed to this level today. Everybody who is on the pitch needs to perform.
"A good defense is also having the ball and ball possession. It is a very good clean sheet. We were not lucky to escape with a clean sheet, we worked hard for it.
"The guys are ready to cover for each other if anyone loses a duel. We wanted to be brave today with the ball and against the ball and we did it."
Perhaps that is the greatest takeaway from today's game ahead of any possible Champions League. Whilst Guardiola will presumably go with something that more closely resembles his best attack Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva will still find themselves butting their heads against the same brick wall that their team-mates did at Wembley.
They say that defense wins championships. With a side that looked so beleaguered in mid-January now in one final and within 180 minutes of another Tuchel may be about to vindicate that old cliché.